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Black noise : rap music and black culture in contemporary America /

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Format: Book
Language: English
Published: University Press of New England, 1994
Series: Music/culture.
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From its beginnings in hip hop culture, the dense rhythms and aggressive lyrics of rap music have made it a provocative fixture on the American cultural landscape. Black culture expert Tricia Rose takes a comprehensive look at the lyrics, music, themes and styles of rap and grapples with the debates that surround it. 10 illustrations.


Voices from the Margins: Rap Music and Contemporary Black Cultural Production
"All Aboard the Night Train": Flow, Layering, and Rupture in Postindustrial New York
Soul Sonic Forces: Technology, Orality, and Black Cultural Practice in Rap Music
Prophets of Rage: Rap Music and the Politics of Black Cultural Expression
Bad Sistahs: Black Women Rappers and Sexual Politics in rap Music
Background Sources

Review by Choice Review

Some, feeling autonomous musicality is absent in rap, will think this apology's title well selected. They will, however, be surprised by the intellectual depth to which this idiom is explored. A few traces of dissertationese are evident, but Rose relates the subject to traditions of African American culture and literary theory--including troping--substantially deeper than resistors or advocates might expect. The author readily admits the influential role of the music industry and the problems of copyright and censorship. She devotes one of the five chapters to sexual politics and women rappers. Though she allies rap to certain folkloric traditions (more easily to the contemporary ghetto than to the heritage of the spiritual), efforts to relate the idiom to "European" music history and its "notion" (notation?) system are not penetrating, despite conceptual support from Susan McClary and other innovative aestheticians. This is a historical narrative that seems to accept its subject and the realities of inner-city life as they exist, not a philosophic treatise related to amelioration of the problems. The reader is left with a sense of the parallels to 18th-century French life, which began with the peasants imitating aristocracy and ended with the reverse. It is nonetheless an important work on a music form only 20 years from its Bronx roots. Enriched by a bibliography of primarily nonmusical literature, this title is not for the casual reader. Upper-division undergraduates and above.

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review

Rap recordings are discussed almost everywhere today, from schoolyards and subways to the U.S. Senate and Supreme Court. Rose thoroughly analyzes several facets of the musical genre and provides an effective antidote to the severely flawed hip-hop coverage in mainstream media. She accurately traces rap's sonic history (proving thereby that music does not require conventional melody or harmony) and gives substantial information about the innovative rhythmic manipulations made possible by the techniques of sampling. She also makes clear the connections between rap's beginnings and the political turmoils that afflicted black and Latino urban neighborhoods throughout the 1970s and 1980s. In discussing what is probably rap's most controversial aspect--lyrics supposedly advocating "cop killing"--Rose vividly delineates the social conditions that bring about such fierce responses to real-life police brutality. Finally, she examines the often neglected role of women in rap in rewarding depth. Fans, scholars, and detractors alike stand to learn a great deal by studying Rose's commendable treatise. (Reviewed Apr. 15, 1994)0819552712Aaron Cohen

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Rap music often blasts African American rage into mainstream American culture and with its call-and-response choruses and violent, no-holds-barred lyrics, questions societal tradition and authority. These assertions aren't hard to prove. The problem lies in explaining all this without forgetting that most of this music's impact depends on having a good beat and being danceable. Rose, an assistant professor of history and Africana studies at New York University, is generally successful in putting rap in the context of the urban noise, technology and socioeconomics that nurtures it and of the ``slave dances, blues lyrics, Mardi Gras parades, Jamaican patois, toasts and signifying'' that preceded it. Rose addresses sexism, both in the plight of women rappers and in rap lyrics, partially excusing the latter by saying, ``Rap's sexist lyrics are also part of a rampant and viciously normalized sexism that dominates the corporate culture of the music business.'' Supporting her thesis are direct interviews with rappers, personal remembrances and anecdotes, as well as deconstruction of lyrics and videos. Although her analyses are often fascinating, in sentences like ``Rappers are constantly taking dominant discursive fragments and throwing them into relief destabilizing hegemonic discourses and attempting to legitimate counter/hegemonic interpretations,'' Rose becomes unnecessarily obscurantist, forgetting to let the music speak for itself. Photos. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Although a decade of stylistic and technological evolution has transpired since 1994, this book remains undeniably influential. Drawing upon her own experience as a black American, Rose cogently relates the complex interrelationships among culture, history, politics, and economics in black America. Essential for all academic and most large public collections. (LJ 5/1/94) (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.